The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Plenty of people here in Rochester, NY, have enlisted Van Hee Mechanical to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still need persuading about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve described elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that few other manner of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, particularlly when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We dig in the earth for precious metals. We dig in the earth for oil. Now, to an unprecedented degree, we’re tapping the earth for a resource no doubt just as valuable to a majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, mainly of silicates, in which temperatures range from 1300 degrees Fahrenheit to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit and hotter the deeper you go (not that you’d want to go there!). What this does is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a fairly constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Rochester (and essentially everywhere stateside, in any event) are warmer than the ambient air above ground in Winter and cooler than the ambient air above ground in Summer.

Time to Get Pumped!

What geothermal heating and cooling systems do, then, is transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, as the season dictates. Either way, your home environment is maintained at the ideal temperature to keep you and your family comfy month after month.

The appiance that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (commonly fabricated of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) installed in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it courses through the loops, it assimilates heat from the earth and is reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid enters the loops, where it assimilates the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Looking for details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The principal point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They don’t work like central heating systems, which generate heat themselves. Instead, geothermal systems heat and cool your home by mobilizing the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are much more dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Van Hee Mechanical, your Rochester geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.